Patience is Vertical
"Sit right here. Don't go anywhere. I'll be back."
But, the clock ticks. Shadows get long. The sun sets. The temperature drops. Stillness begins make you nervous. Then strange noises break the silence. Finally you give up and move on. You were patient to a point, but your patience had it's limit.
Most of the time when we speak of patience we are thinking of a willingness to wait on some person who is not not meeting our expectations. In other words, patience is normally viewed as horizontal in nature. Or worse, patience is seen as a noble person being patient with an ignoble person; or maybe a competent person tolerating an incompetent one; or a man of strong character putting up with another who has weak character.
But wait. I mean literally, wait.
Just stay put and see what comes.
In the Bible we are called on to be patient... with God.
Wait on the Lord. Watch for His coming.
Patience is "the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset." Patience is a virtue. But patience is also vertical.
Even when we are "putting up with" some annoying idiosyncrasy in one of our fellowmen, it is really about vertical patience. "Am I willing to trust God in this situation?" That's the real question.
It has been stated many times and bears being often repeated: God is good. He is also infinitely wise. He is loving and kind. He is with you. He is fully aware and deeply concerned. He is compassionate and interested. And, God is able.
So, when things get uncomfortable, He's still present. He doesn't move at our whims, but He is always moving. He is never early. He is never late.
Our God is always right on time.
Whether we're in a traffic jam or just in a jam, God knows. He cares. He is in control.
King Saul foolishly lost His patience with the prophet Samuel. He had waited for quite a while. But when Samuel didn't show by the prescribed deadline (and the people got restless), Saul took it upon himself to do Samuel's job for him. Not good. His lack of patience was an offense to God Himself.
You and I are not in charge of God's schedule.
"Your friend is sick." Jesus stayed put.
"Your friend is dead." Jesus headed that way.
"It's too late now." Was it though?
"If you had been here earlier!" But no. Lazarus was destined to be raised from the dead. Jesus wasn't late. He was right on time.
What are you waiting for? Are you ready to give up? To throw in the towel?
What if your redemption is just around the corner? Be patient. Tarry. Be busy about your Father's business, sure! Do that. But realize that it might be 18 more years before God really turns you loose.
That's how long Jesus had to wait.
Be patient with God. Maybe you're waiting for a spouse. You might be waiting for healing, for financial freedom, for the salvation of a loved one. Perhaps you're waiting for an answer to prayer, for a career change, or for an answer to a difficult question. You may be waiting for Jesus to come back - I hope you are! Watching and waiting.
But do so in faith.
"Oh no, I can't wait any longer. I will take matters into my own hands and force this issue. I will get some answers if it kills me." Be careful, it could do just that.
Noah waited for a century for the rain to fall. Moses was eighty before his mission commenced. After leaving Ur, Abraham searched for a heavenly city for the rest of his life, AND he died without finding it. But he has found it now!
Stay faithful. Keep trusting. God does all things well. If there was a better way to do things than the way He is doing them now, then He would have chosen that way instead. He only does what is best. He is incapable of improving. Be patient.
"But, I don't understand."
We don't have to know why. We only need to know Who.